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Gujarat slashes Centre’s new traffic fines by up to 90%

Updated: Sep 11, 2019, 10.49 AM IST
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Highlights

  • The state govt’s justification to reduce the penalties on “compassionate and humanitarian” grounds is now likely to pave way for other states to lower fines as well
  • The new fines will come into force in Gujarat from September 16
  • As per the new MVA law, states cannot change penalties for many offences, including juvenile driving, drunk driving and jumping traffic light
(This story originally appeared in on Sep 11, 2019)
GANDHINAGAR/NEW DELHI: Barely 10 days after the amended Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) came into force, the Gujarat government on Tuesday notified the fines for some of the traffic offences, reducing the penalties by 25% to 90% than those notified by the Centre.

The state government’s justification to reduce the penalties on “compassionate and humanitarian” grounds is now likely to pave way for other states to lower fines as well. The new Motor Vehicle Act gives states the power to lower the penalties for several offenses.

The new fines will come into force in Gujarat from September 16. The original fines for offenses such as drunken driving and jumping traffic lights remain unchanged as these cannot be altered.

“Our priority is not collecting fines or filing cases against people. However, implementing law is not possible without punitive action. We have taken a compassionate and humanitarian approach and reduced fines. No concessions can be granted in cases where people lose their lives. There will be a sustained clampdown against serious traffic offences,” said chief minister Vijay Rupani.

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The Gujarat government has largely tweaked the fines that fall under the “compoundable” offences category, which empowers the state governments to designate officers who can collect the fine on the spot and let the offender go. These include not wearing seat belt, helmet, triple-riding on two-wheelers, speeding, plying vehicles without pollution under control certificate and driving without licence and registration certificate.

As per the new MVA law, states cannot change penalties for many offences, including juvenile driving, drunk driving and jumping traffic light. These fines were not reduced by Gujarat.

However, the state government went ahead and reduced penalties for wrong side driving, which is a non-compoundable offense to be settled in court.

Another major dilution is to exempt pillion riders from wearing helmet. “We have taken a moderate stand in this regard as middle-class families including wife and children travel on two-wheelers,” said Rupani.

The reduction in fines by the Gujarat government is being seen as a balancing act in the wake of widespread protests, especially in Rupani’s home turf, Rajkot, which has witnessed demonstrations against the hefty penalties.

The amended MVA provides for a Rs 1,000 fine for driving without wearing helmet or seat belt, which Gujarat has reduced to Rs 500.

Obstructing a fire vehicle or ambulance attracts a heavy fine of Rs 10,000 in the Central act. The state government has reduced this to Rs 1,000. Similarly, the fine for triple-riding has been reduced from Rs 1,000 to Rs 100.

States such as Karnataka, Odisha and Bihar as also the Union territory of Chandigarh have notified the penalties as per the MVA. However, Karnataka is now mulling reduction in the fines. Karnataka deputy C M Laxman Savadi said: “With other states reconsidering the hefty fines, we too will reconsider it.”

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